November 22, 2016
An independent and impartial investigation must be immediately instituted into the operations of the financially stricken Fiji Sugar Corporation and its former Executive Chairman Abdul Khan.
This follows announcement that the FSC recorded a loss of $31.7 million for the 2015 financial year after making a profit of $6.9 million in 2014.
Only an independent and impartial inquiry and forensic audit will be able to establish how Mr Abdul Khan has been responsible for running the Corporation for five years as Executive Chairman. As the sole authority in charge of everything including even marketing of sugar, Mr Khan must be held responsible for making FSC technically insolvent and totally dependent on loans guaranteed by Government and the taxpayers of this country.
And Government as the largest shareholder is equally responsible for this disastrous result. Both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General and Minister for Economy have misled Parliament and the nation respectively by claiming FSC and Mr Khan were doing a remarkable job and that the Opposition was trying to politicise the industry.
In his ministerial statement in Parliament on 11th February 2015, the PM and Minister for Sugar said, “…one of the remarkable success stories of the last few years is the remarkable turnaround of FSC…”
“…. The FSC is now able to stand on its own two feet. Government does not need to provide it any direct funding since 2013”.
On 27th May 2015, the AG and then Minister for Finance, while announcing that FSC would top up the 4th cane payment for 2014 season by nearly $8 said in the Fiji Sun newspaper “We are able to do this only because of the tremendous performance of the FSC under its present management especially its Executive Chairman Abdul Khan. We have taken politics out of the industry and given the FSC the guidance and support it needs to properly manage the industry”.
The disastrous financial performance of FSC paints an entirely different picture.
If the PM and AG can claim credit for any good that happens, in this case FSC’s profit in 2014, then they must also, under doctrine of ministerial responsibility, take the responsibility for their abysmal failure in monitoring the performance of FSC under Abdul Khan, which resulted it plummeting from a so called profitable organisation to a colossal financial disaster. This is unprecedented.
That is why we reiterate that Abdul Khan should not have been allowed to quit FSC without an independent investigation. Relinquishing his position immediately with several questions remaining unanswered about both his and the FSC’s performance and the Corporation’s lack of direction during his reign was unacceptable and against good governance in a organisation in which taxpayers have a stake through majority ownership by Government.
For the sake of accountability, transparency and good governance, we call upon the Chairman of FSC to appoint an independent investigation comprising of personnel who are experts in financial and forensic accounting and audit to extensively scrutinise all aspects of FSC’s operations and management practices in the last five years.
Professor Biman Prasad, Leader